My husband and I have been married for ten years. Not long enough to get to the really good anniversary presents but long enough I wouldn't feel ludicrous offering marriage advice.
And long enough I couldn't help but slightly roll my eyes at the opening sentence of the latest viral post Marriage Isn’t for You by Seth Adams Smith.
Having been married only a year and a half, I've recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn't for me.
Mr. Smith goes on to elaborate that marriage is for the other person. It is a commitment to your spouse – to make them happy, to meet their needs. This commitment is also about your future family and children and creating the best possible environment for them by loving unselfishly and unconditionally.
To that I say, “Bless your heart! Let's check back in five years.”
Mr. Smith seems like a thoughtful guy. He also seems to love his wife a great deal. While I admire the overall sentiment of his essay, I think he might setting the bar a smidge high.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It's about the person you love--their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, "What's in it for me?" while Love asks, "What can I give?"
Whew. That makes me tired.
Maybe it’s because I’m a female and I tend to buck at the suggestion I should be giving more. Maybe it’s because over a decade of marriage I have learned my needs are important and the entire family is often served when I stick up for myself. Maybe it’s because I think our expectations are already high enough when it comes to marriage.
Unrealistic expectations of what a marriage or "Love" should be serve no one. Trust me, I know.
It has taken me ten long years to meet my husband where he is, instead of constantly obsessing over the state of our relationship – or, more accurately, the relationship I thought we should have. In fact, the relationship I thought we should have looks a lot like the one Mr. Smith is describing in his essay (and the one at the end of every romantic comedy). If I’m being honest, chasing that type of "Love" caused a lot of strain on the marriage I was actually inhabiting every day.
Making the other person's happiness the focus of your marriage not only creates a mountain too high to climb but misses the point of the journey all together.
Listen, marriage is hard. It is also hilarious and frustrating and awesome and all of those things at once depending on whether you are enjoying a romantic dinner or trying desperately to convince your toddler to go the f*** to sleep.
And working on your marriage is important. Spending real and dedicated time on your relationship is essential. However, relationships are built on honesty and communication and a shared obsession with The Wire (No? That’s just us?). Self-sacrifice and commitment to other person is a part of the puzzle but it is not the entire solution.
Some days my marriage IS for me. Some days my marriage is for my husband. Some days my marriage is for my kids or for my extended family or for my career or for shutters that need to be painted.
But no matter the day, being married to Nicholas is better than not being married to Nicholas. Even if I'm being selfish, even if he's being selfish, marriage is always worth it because it's not just about US.
Marriage isn't a gift I bestowed on my husband. Marriage isn't for someone or not for someone. Marriage just IS. It's the decision my husband and I made to do THIS - this commitment, this life, this journey - together.
And that's enough.
Is marriage for you or your spouse? Tell me what you think!